Selected Publications

Change in 12-month and lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders from ages 21, 26, and 30 in a community sample

by Jennifer L. Tanner (2007) with Helen Z. Reinherz, William R. Beardslee, Garrett M. Fitzmaurice, Julie A. Leis, & Sasha R. Berger Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Volume 195, pgs. 298-306

This empirical report communicates findings from a study of individuals followed from age 5 through age 30 from a working-class community in the Northeast (The Simmons Longitudinal Study). This specific study was designed to provide information on the prevalence of psychiatric disorder at age 21, 26, and 30 in this particular community. While not generalizable to all populations, study results indicate that the percentage of a population meeting criteria for any psychiatric disorder studied (major depression, phobia, PTSD, alcohol abuse/dependence, drug abuse/dependence) decreases from 47% at age 21 to 24% at age 26 and 17% at age 30. However, as the study progressed, the percentage of the sample ever experiencing psychiatric disorder in their lifetime continued to increase. This is important given that study findings also revealed that both current psychiatric disorder (disorder reported in the past 12-months) and lifetime psychiatric disorder (ever having had a psychiatric disorder) were associated with more impairment in their ability to function in occupations and relationships in young adulthood, at age 30. These findings fit with results from prior studies, each contributing some support to the conclusion that the burden of psychiatric disorder follows individuals into adulthood manifesting in impaired functioning in important areas of adult life.

Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century

Edited by, Jeffrey J. Arnett & Jennifer L. Tanner (2006)
American Psychological Association

Recentering during emerging adulthood:
A critical turning point in life span human development

by Jennifer L. Tanner (2006) in,
Emerging adults in America: Coming of age in the 21st century
edited by Jeffrey J. Arnett and Jennifer L. Tanner
American Psychological Association, pgs. 21-55.

This publication contains the first presentation of a life span developmental systems model of development from adolescence through young adulthood. In this chapter, the recentering process is proposed as a three-stage model of normative development outlining the tasks associated with transitioning from adolescence into emerging adulthood (stage 1), emerging adulthood proper (stage 2), and transitioning from emerging to young adulthood (stage 3). Individual differences resulting in variation in timing and experiences during the three stages are discussed in reference to key individual- and family-level factors (i.e., ego development and the separation-individuation process, respectively) and non-randomly distributed opportunities for development and attainment of adult roles and successes.  The recentering model serves as a framework for interventions and programs designed to facilitate healthy and optimal maturation through the transition to adulthood.

Book review: On your own without a net:
The transition to adulthood for vulnerable populations

by, Jennifer L. Tanner (2007)
in, Social Service Review, volume 81(1), pgs. 186-191

The volume, On your own without a net: The transition to adulthood for vulnerable populations (University of Chicago Press) is the second volume of two edited by members of the Network on Transitions to Adulthood funded by the MacArthur foundation. The first volume, On the frontier of adulthood: Emerging themes and new directions, network members and editors Furstenberg, Rumbaut, & Settersten ask important questions about the contemporary transition to adulthood, contrasting these experiences with traditional conceptualizations and experiences of adults in their first years of adulthood. Osgood, Foster, Flanagan, & Ruth, in the second volume, focus on the most vulnerable adolescents transitioning into adulthood, highlighting the need for research and policy to increase resources and opportunities for these groups if social expectations for adaptation during this life stage are to be met.

Tanner’s review of On your own without a net provides a comprehensive overview of the volume and highlights the major theme: we need more and better services for vulnerable youth. She also uses this review to raise questions about the way that vulnerability is defined in this volume and challenges readers to take a step back and consider the assumptions that are made in determining, a priori  (before the transition to adulthood), who is most vulnerable during the transition to adulthood. She argues in the review, that this question remains an empirical question to be answered: Are those most vulnerable in adolescence those most vulnerable in emerging adulthood? According to Tanner, this is an important question because accurate identification of those most vulnerable during the transition to adulthood has implications for the allocation of resources and design of programs and interventions devised to resolve vulnerability and shape adaptive transitions to adulthood. These issues are further discussed in Vulnerable people, groups, and populations, by Dr. David Mechanic and Dr. Jennifer Tanner (2007), published in Health Affairs, Special Issue: Caring for the Vulnerable (Volume 26(5), pages 1220-1230).

Perils of the post-graduate

by, Jennifer L. Tanner (June 13, 2004)
in, Newsday, p. 56

This invited op-ed piece provided an opportunity for Dr. Tanner to translate research findings from her and othersí empirical work on psychiatric disorder during the transition to adulthood into an editorial arguing for allocation of increased resources to treat mental health problems in emerging adulthood.

Adult children and their fathers:
Relationship changes twenty years after parental divorce

by, Constance R. Ahrons & Jennifer L. Tanner (2003)
in, Family Relations, volume 52(4), pgs. 340-351, and

Weíre still family: What grow children have to say about their parentsí divorce

by Constance R. Ahrons (2004, HarperCollins)
Jennifer L. Tanner, Data Analyst

Dr. Tannerís work with Dr. Constance Ahrons, Professor Emerita from the Department of Sociology and former Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Training Program at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, culminated in a research article that looked specifically at adult childrenís relationships with their fathers twenty years after their parents divorce, and in Dr. Ahronsí book, a broader description of associated outcomes derived from asking adult children of divorced parents to look back on their family experiences. Study results presented in both pieces respond to one of the toughest questions divorcing and divorced parents have to face, will this divorce result in irreparable damage to my childrenís lives? The data analysis and the results take a unique approach in this literature, focusing on the diversity of experiences of the adult children, making the case that there is no direct association between the event of divorce and a negative outcome for children. Instead, the potential for parents and children to write scripts that work for them in the long-term is highlighted.

The finished, published products represent the results of a partnership formed from combining the rich and expert work of Dr. Ahrons and Dr. Tannerís developmental training and person-centered approach to data analysis. For Dr. Tanner, this work was an exercise in in-depth study of a sub-population of emerging and young adults who may be considered vulnerable. Dr. Tannerís work on mental health problems of emerging was borne out of this work with Dr. Ahrons which serves as an example of the importance of looking at sub-groups and asking questions about the mechanisms that distinguish them.